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The term "mental health" used as a synonym for mental ill-health these days.

(22 Posts)
Mynestisfullofempty Mon 06-Feb-17 11:14:28

The most recent example was this morning on Radio 4. An artist was talking about using her art to "help people with mental health, because they can be forgotten". I hear it all the time. "She/he's got mental health" when referring to someone who is mentally ill. It would be different if they said "she's got problems with her mental health" but they don't. I've had lifelong depression, so I would love to have mental health, but I haven't. People wouldn't do it with physical health. If someone's physically ill they're not described as having physical health are they?

Btw, apologies to any pedants here who notice grammar and punctuation mistakes. I posted here because it seemed the most suitable board on MN to post about this niggle and I wondered if anyone else has noticed it happening.

sunshinesupermum Mon 06-Feb-17 11:20:08

I've noticed it too Mynest and as I have a partner who is bipolar and family who suffer with other mental ill health I also wish people would use the correct term. Meanwhile from one who also suffer with depression to another flowers

SkyLucy Mon 06-Feb-17 11:30:36

I was getting very riled by this exact wording issue earlier! There's a story on the Beeb's news site about a 'mental health patient'. Eh? What?

To be honest, I think I'm being overly pedantic, and actually very much hope that the reason it's annoying me more is that the topic of mental illness is much more prevalent in the news/general conversation etc. I very much hope the taboo is being lifted - I'll celebrate this first, and be a grumbling old pedant afterwards!

scaryclown Mon 06-Feb-17 11:36:44

I agree, and also with the use of Mental Health to mean 'happy and contented' and Mental Health Problems' to mean 'sad', 'grieving', 'temporarily insecure' or 'not talking to us right now'.

The amount of time people i know have a friend who needs cheering up for whatever reason, and instead if saying 'hey lets go and do something fun' they speculate without that person there that they have a memtal health disorder rather than 'they arent feeling typically happy and bubbly now, i wonder why.

All of which i think is really unhealthy.

scaryclown Mon 06-Feb-17 11:39:20

the physical equivalent is having someone say 'i'm knackered right now and need to get some sleep' and their friends to say 'oook i heard they are struggling with narcolepsy and fatigue, maybe they have a long term cancer issue'

Cakingbad Mon 06-Feb-17 11:43:54

People also say "She has health issues". Should they say "She has ill-health issues"?
Never been in pedants' corner before. Love the careful apostrophe!

Mynestisfullofempty Mon 06-Feb-17 11:49:35

Cakingbad no, mental health issues is fine.

Mynestisfullofempty Mon 06-Feb-17 11:51:19

Sorry, that should have been "She has health issues" is fine, as would "she has problems with her mental health".

Mynestisfullofempty Mon 06-Feb-17 13:04:48

What I'm saying is that to have mental health is good just as to have physical health is good. It makes no sense to say "I want to help people with mental health because they can get forgotten" when you mean the opposite. You wouldn't say "I want to help people with physical health" etc.
Health = good
Illness = bad

Olympiathequeen Sun 19-Feb-17 15:15:13

Must have missed that, but have seen plenty of MH issues, which I'm ok with.

limon Fri 14-Apr-17 09:26:24

Hate it. Writing reports etc at work I always use "mental ill health".

Mungobungo Fri 14-Apr-17 09:34:17

Totally with you in this one OP. Why can't they say Mental Health Issues?

It's the sameness that a few older people I know will say 'I'm on tablets because I've got blood pressure' - everybody on the planet who is alive has blood pressure , it's either high or low. Be specific. It's only an extra word!

Trills Fri 14-Apr-17 09:37:01


Everyone has mental health.

You could even say "I help people with their mental health", but that sentence would be unclear as to whether you helped people with actual issues or just encouraged healthy habits in fairly-healthy individuals.

Janni65 Thu 07-Sep-17 12:13:33

Totally with you - it drives me crazy. I think it started because it became un-PC to talk about mental illness so it became 'mental health difficulties/issues.

I was in a school meeting where a senior staff member lowered her voice and said announced gravely about one of the mothers 'She's got mental health'.

Which, as you say OP, would be a very good thing to have.

endofthelinefinally Thu 07-Sep-17 12:17:09

I agree. It is lazy and shows a lack of thought and understanding.

ArgyMargy Thu 07-Sep-17 12:22:22

Oh yes this drives me mad. Constant references to "people who suffer with mental health". I suppose it's great that it's being mentioned as an issue but the issue is mental illness, not mental health.

ArgyMargy Thu 07-Sep-17 12:23:44

..and why so coy about saying mental illness? We wouldn't shy away from referring to physical illness.

msrisotto Thu 07-Sep-17 12:35:25

This winds me up all the time! I work in mental health services and even the psychiatric nurses use it incorrectly sad

DadDadDad Thu 07-Sep-17 16:36:04

Janni65 - "it drives me crazy"

ArgyMargy - "this drives me mad"

Are you saying this sloppiness is leading you to mental illness? shock

MrsHathaway Thu 07-Sep-17 16:51:45

There was a recent Twitter campaign #Ihavementalhealth which didn't gain much traction but was intended to show that we all have mental health just as we all have physical health, just in varying degrees.

I understood the sentiment. Unfortunately all the retweeters were either MH professionals or MH campaigners.

Grammatically, "mental ill health" makes me twitch. You want "poor" or "bad" and it needs to go before "mental" just as "poor physical health" has the type of health nearest the word "health".

MrsHathaway Thu 07-Sep-17 16:53:13

people who suffer with mental health

I would be happy with "people who suffer with their mental health" as a parallel to "people who suffer with their [physical] health" or "with their mobility" or similar.

DaisyStarburst Thu 07-Sep-17 19:44:21

This is a big bugbear of mine! People trying to be PC, just call it what it is Mental Illness, everyone has Mental Health, I and some others have Mental Illness.

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